Match Preview: Leinster dreaming of fifth star as they take on La Rochelle again

Match Preview: Leinster dreaming of fifth star as they take on La Rochelle again

Leinster Rugby will again go in search of a record-equalling fifth Heineken Champions Cup title when they take on reigning champions Stade Rochelais in the final in Dublin on Saturday.

The Irish province were defeated by La Rochelle in last season’s showpiece game in Marseille but have bounced back in style to reach the final for a seventh time.

Leinster have lifted the coveted trophy on four occasions –2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018 – but they face a La Rochelle team playing their third successive Heineken Champions Cup final and a fourth EPCR final in five years.

Both teams are unbeaten in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, with Leinster finishing top of Pool A and La Rochelle achieving the same feat in Pool B.

This year’s final is the sixth between Irish and French clubs, with the Irish currently leading the way with four victories to one.

The game kicks off at 16:45 (UK & Irish time) at the Aviva Stadium and is available to watch on RTE, BT Sport, France TV, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and ITV.

Route to the final: Leinster Rugby

Round 1: Racing 92 10 Leinster Rugby 42 

Round 2: Leinster Rugby 57 Gloucester Rugby 0 

Round 3: Gloucester Rugby 14 Leinster Rugby 49 

Round 4: Leinster Rugby 36 Racing 92 10 

Leinster finished top of Pool A on 20 points 

Round of 16: Leinster Rugby 30 Ulster Rugby 15 

Quarter-finals: Leinster Rugby 55 Leicester Tigers 24 

Semi-finals: Leinster Rugby 41 Stade Toulousain 22 

Route to the final: Stade Rochelais 

Round 1: Stade Rochelais 46 Northampton Saints 12 

Round 2: Ulster Rugby 29 Stade Rochelais 36 

Round 3: Stade Rochelais 7 Ulster Rugby 3 

Round 4: Northampton Saints 13 Stade Rochelais 31 

La Rochelle finished top of Pool B on 18 points 

Round of 16:
Stade Rochelais 29 Gloucester Rugby 26 

Quarter-finals: Stade Rochelais 24 Saracens 10 

Semi-finals: Stade Rochelais 47 Exeter Chiefs 28 

Key facts

  • Holders La Rochelle have reached the Heineken Champions Cup final for the third season in a row, and having qualified for the 2019 Challenge Cup decider, the club’s appearance at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday will be their fourth EPCR final in five years.
  • Stade Toulousain (2003, 2004, 2005) and RC Toulon (2013, 2014, 2015) are the only other clubs to have qualified for three consecutive Heineken Champions Cup finals.
  • If Cian Healy is selected in Leinster’s match day 23 for the final, and if the Irish province are victorious, he will become the first player in history to win the tournament five times.
  • Prop Healy could also set a new tournament record of seven final appearances, surpassing his total of six which he shares with Leinster teammate, Johnny Sexton, and Cédric Heymans of CA Brive and Stade Toulousain.
  • La Rochelle captain Grégory Alldritt has made the most carries this season with 112 from his seven matches to date.
  • La Rochelle fly-half Antoine Hastoy is the leading scorer in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup with 85 points, four ahead of Leinster counterpart Ross Byrne on 81. Leinster flanker Josh van der Flier is the top try scorer with six, while La Rochelle scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow has crossed for five.
  • If they are named in their respective match day 23s, both Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong and La Rochelle’s Brice Dulin will make their 50th Heineken Champions Cup appearances on Saturday.
  • Players from eight different countries – Argentina, Australia, Fiji, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Samoa and South Africa – are likely to feature in Saturday’s showpiece match which will be watched by TV viewers in close to 200 countries worldwide.
  • Leinster back Jimmy O’Brien is the tournament’s top metre maker on 449 and he also has made the most line breaks with 13.

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